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Ancient Lapis Lazuli and Agate Beads with Silver


Swat Valley


Agate, Lapis Lazuli, Silver


The necklace is 27 inches (69.3 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 46 gm.







A necklace of thirty-eight agate beads alternating with thirty-five lapis lazuli beads. Between each of the stone beads is a granulated silver bead. The black agate bead in the center is 1 cm in length, 1.13 cm in width and 8 mm in thickness, a flattened round shape. The drill hole diameter is 2.5 mm. To either side are two round agate beads, 6 mm in length, 8.5 mm in width with drill hold diameters of 1.8 mm. The beads have been affected by long exposure to alkaline soil which has caused some of the layers to take on an opaque white coloration in bands that were originally translucent. The necklace is designed to alternate agate and lapis beads and to alternate round beads with barrel shaped beads with a silver spacer bead between. This gives an alternating light and dark, long and short, regular pattern. As the the sizes of the beads decrease towards the back of the necklace, the round agates beads give way to agate barrel beads and the lapis beads become the short beads in the short/long alteration. These variations to the predictable pattern of the design are not immediately available to perception; the over all pattern appears to be unvarying. The largest agate barrel bead is 1 cm in length, 7 mm in width and with a drill hold diameter of 2 mm. Most of the agate barrel beads are around 7mm in length and 5 mm in width, The lapis beads in the necklace vary in shape: there are round beads, rectangular solids, and barrel beads. The largest are 1 cm in length and 7.5 mm in width. The smallest are barrel beads 6.7 mm in length and 3.4 mm in width. The beads are probably over two thousand years old and come from the Swat Valley in what is now northern Pakistan. Two thousand years ago, this was part of the Buddhist kingdom of Uddiyana. Uddiyana was of considerable strategic and commercial importance in the ancient world. Its fertile valleys, warm climate, and above all, its central position on the busy trade routes between Asia and the Mediterranean made it valuable territory to control. As a consequence, it suffered numerous conquests,with each conqueror leaving an imprint on the culture; the result was a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic society which is reflected in the many types and materials of the beads that are found there. The seventy-two silver spacer beads are each composed of ten granules that have been fused together to form (when seen from the side) a five pointed star pattern. The beading tips and clasp are also hand made from fine (999) silver.